With a greater number of people renting and a greater need for affordable housing, there has also been a significant increase in the number of properties reported as not meeting the legal housing standards. This is turn has contributed to more than 7.5 million private rental tenants experiencing problems with their landlord.
Following these developments the government issued a report in August setting out key roles and responsibilities for both landlords and tenants. As the market continues to grow it becomes even more important for tenants and landlords to develop better relationships with each other – potentially settling disputes and resolving any problems more effectively.
The report encouraged tenants to make sure that their letting agent had client money protection – which covers a tenant’s deposit and rent if the agent goes out of business. If a letting agent does have money protection then they should have a SAFE kitemark.
Tenants were also asked to make sure they had a written tenancy agreement to ensure that they knew what they were responsible for. This includes such things as who pays the utility bills, how long the tenancy is for and how and when the rent should be paid.
Checking agent fees was also recommended before signing a tenancy agreement, to make sure both parties have a clear understanding from the beginning what is to be paid by the tenant.
As some tenants experience difficultly in retrieving their deposit after they have left a property, the report also highlighted the importance of tenants checking that their deposit is protected. It is a legal requirement that all landlords sign up to one of the three government-authorised Tenancy Deposit Protection schemes – this means that if there are any disputes they are resolved by an external agency.
As well as knowing their rights as a tenant the report also encouraged tenants to understand their responsibilities too. This included urging tenants to keep their landlord’s property in good condition – as a tenant you have a duty of care to use the property in a responsible way and keep to the terms of the tenancy agreement.
Tenants were also reminded to always pay their rent on time – and if they were experiencing difficulty in paying their rent it to seek advice from their local authority.
For more information about your or your landlord’s roles and responsibilities or to download the Top Tips for tenants: Assured short hold tenancies report please see the advice on housing on the Government’s site for Communities and Local Government.